Calgary Board of Education

Tenets for learning in a School of Creativity

6.  Student Competencies

As we focus more on student’s competencies, there will be less emphasis on knowing something, and more emphasis on knowing how to access information about it.  There is also greater emphasis on knowing how to think and do things.  Students’ develop competencies to take information (or content) and make it relevant to real-life situations.  A person is considered knowledgeable if they can gather, analyze and synthesize information in order to create knowledge or find solutions to problems.  Sternberg and William’s describe three types of abilities associated with creativity in their well-known theory of creativity development. These include synthetic ability or the ability to generate new and novel ideas; analytic ability or critical thinking which involves choosing which ideas to pursue; and practical ability or translating ideas into action.  This is the focus of the work in a school of creativity.

The ”Inspiring Education” document shares that the educated Albertan of 2030 should demonstrate the following competencies.  In other words, he or she will be able to:

  • Know how to learn – to gain knowledge, understanding or skills through experience, study, and interaction with others.
  • Think critically – conceptualize, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate to construct problems.
  • Identify and solve complex problems.
  • Manage information – access, interpret, evaluate and use information effectively, efficiently, and ethically.
  • Innovate – create and generate new ideas or concepts.
  • Create opportunities – through play, imagination, reflection, negotiation, and competition – with an entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Apply multiple literacies – reading, writing, mathematics, technology, languages, media, and personal finance.
  • Demonstrate good communication skills and the ability to work cooperatively with others.
  • Demonstrate global and cultural understanding.
  • Identify and apply career and life skills.

The competencies required by children and youth may change over time.  However, the overall focus on competencies will shift education away from a process of disseminating information to a process of inquiry and discovery.  Learners would still study reading, writing and mathematics, but they would focus more deeply on a curriculum that allow for more interdisciplinary studies.  Learners will acquire competencies on a continuum, with each learner starting and ending at different points.  Learners will make progress when they master competencies like critical thinking, problem solving, innovation and creativity – not necessarily by age and grade.

As educators, our role is to be well positioned to manage the challenges and opportunities of our common future: an increasing focus on knowledge, competition from developing economies, changing demographics, and more diversity.  But education is about more than preparing our children and youth for work.  It must encourage learners to discover and pursue their passion; make successful transitions to adulthood; and create life-long learners who contribute to healthy, inclusive communities and thriving economies.  The “Inspiring Education” document has created a vision for education through specific outcomes summarized by “the Three E’s” of education for the 21st Century.  The following qualities would be nurtured:

  • Engaged Thinker: “I collaborate to create new knowledge.”
  • Ethical Citizen: “I do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.”
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: “I create new opportunities.” 

Graduates of Capitol Hill ‘school of creativity’ would reveal that they are competent and prepared for the challenges that further education brings.  Our competencies, reflective in teacher instruction and of our student learners, are influenced by the seven DaVincian principles.  These include:

  • Curiosita – An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning;
  • Dimostrazione – A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes;
  • Sensazione – The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience;
  • Sfumato – (literally going up in smoke) A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty;
  • Arte/Scienza – The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination.  “Whole-brain” thinking;
  • Corporalita – The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise;
  • Connessione – A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena.  Systems thinking.

Resource:  How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, by Michael J. Gelb;  “Inspiring Education: A Dialogue with Albertans,” Government of Alberta; Sternberg and William’s, Theory of Creativity.

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